UGC should be demolished, says experts

September 27, 2014

There are many inconsistencies in the Indian education system and the government should first dismantle the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other similar bodies to improve the system, said experts at the India Today Global Roundtable in New York on Friday.

"We have tried that before. We forwarded the proposal to dismantle the UGC but a parliamentary committee had rejected it," Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor said.

"One interesting idea was to create innovation and research universities but we didn't get enough support," he added.

Indian parents are spending some $3 billion annually for their children's education abroad because of the dearth of quality higher institutions in the country. India needs both elite and regular institutions, he said.

There is a need to increase the quality of higher education in India. It is only the public institutions that are mostly spending on research and development. Private institutions are lagging far behind, Tharoor said.

Arvind Panagariya, professor at Columbia University, said India's education has to improve both qualitatively and quantitatively. "Six months ago India Today had organised its annual conclave in Delhi where I had suggested that the Planning Commission should be dismantled. And to my surprise, Prime MinisterNarendra Modiannounced that from the Red Fort on 15th August."

He said that even China has better gross enrolment ratio than India. The country has to do a lot better in this regard, he said.

"Our universities don't even figure in the world's top 200 universities. We are missing big time here. We still have a long way to go to have universities of Ivy League stature," he said.

"We must get rid of the UGC and other such councils to do better," he added.

Pramath Raj Sinha, founder and trustee of Ashoka University, said, "We need good institutions to compete with the foreign institutions. We need a new education policy, not to create elite institutions but to improve the education system as a whole."

He said that India needs radical steps to improve its education system. He suggested three points to achieve that. First, he said is to create education SEZs, second, joint academic degrees with foreign universities and third, simplifying the licensing process for institutions.

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